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The best new restaurants in NYC that opened in May

New York’s best new restaurants in May include Middle Eastern dining rooms, vegan sushi spots and Chinatown food halls

Photograph: Henry Greaves
Burger at Esther and Carol

Mellow springtime is slowly but surely giving way to hotter temperatures, and one of the best things to do in summer to combat the heat is to hide out in the air-conditioned confines of the best new restaurants in NYC. Mays crop of dining newcomers include a buzzy Mexican restaurant, a super-affordable sushi counter and a downtown food hall inside the Canal Street Market. Here are the best new restaurants that debuted in New York this May.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best new restaurants in NYC

Best new restaurants in NYC in May

1

Casa Pública

Altamarea group vet Bob Truitt taps into the regional cuisine of Mexico City at this Williamsburg newcomer. Homestyle dishes include aguachile ceviche with tomatillo, and squash blossoms stuffed with requesón cheese and Swiss chard. Bar director Meaghan Montagano (La Sirena) complements the grub with an extensive michelada program, as well as frozen cocktails and large-format drinks spiked with agave spirits, like the tequila-based Paloma de Mis Suenos (chili-infused Amara, grapefruit soda). The interior is a homage to 1930s Mexico, with liquor cabinets lined with old Mexican newspapers, floors tiled with handmade Saltillo clay and long wooden communal tables grounding the room. 

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Williamsburg
2

Miss Ada

No, Miss Ada isn’t the name of some chef’s grade-school teacher. Rather, it’s a playful twist on the phonetic pronunciation of misada, the Hebrew word for “restaurant.” At this Fort Greene spot, Israeli-born chef Tomer Blechman (Bar Bolonat) combines his Latvian heritage with Mediterranean cooking: Dishes include masabaha hummus with charred ramps, herring crostini with arugula, and a kebab burger with bone marrow. 

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Fort Greene
3

Canal Street Market Food Hall

Canal street is known for many things, like bustling fish markets and pushy vendors peddling counterfeit handbags. Now it can add food-hall destination to its résumé: Twelve vendors take up residence inside the 12,000-square-foot Canal Street Market, including milk-tea specialists Boba Guys, madcap scoops parlor Davey’s Ice Cream and Mediterranean street food courtesy of ilili Box. The gastro court also features spin-offs of popular eateries such as Nom Wah Kuai from the Nom Wah Tea Parlor team and Kuro-Obi from the Ippudo crew, along with fresh conceptions like Lulu, a locavore smoothie bar, and CSM Lab, a pop-up space for veteran and emerging chefs to experiment and serve new dishes. 

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Soho
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4

E.A.K. Ramen

Is there a more symbiotic food relationship than ramen noodles and college students? In Greenwich Village, a territory dominated by NYU undergrads and Parsons coeds, Japan’s prolific Iekei noodle chain introduces its brand of ié-kei (phonetically pronounced E-A-K) ramen: a creamy blend of Fukuoka, Kyushu–style tonkotsu and Tokyo-style soy sauce broths. Using thicker noodles and toppings that include boiled spinach, braised pork and nori sheets, the ramen house issues variations on this combo: The Oh So Hot! comes with sesame oil and spicy miso, while the Zebra is spiked with roasted umami garlic oil. All meals are served in custom bowls with cheeky graphics or quotes at the bottom. 

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West Village
5

Esther & Carol

A little rock & roll comes to Nolita courtesy of this multiconcept eatery from Kevin King (Balthazar) and Cordell Lochin (La Esquina). The 80-seat space is split three ways: an Art Deco–inspired American bistro, a takeout burger window and a music-focused basement lounge. The restaurant serves upscale comfort foods like grilled ribeye with whipped potatoes and chicken noodle soup with spring onion, while the burger window purveys grass-fed patties and dairy-free milk shakes. The downstairs lounge is decorated like a defunct recording studio; guests can enjoy drinks surrounded by Gibson instruments, video recording gear and images of iconic musicians like Prince.

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Little Italy
6

Rahi

Consider it yet another spin in NYC’s revolving-door restaurant scene: When Tapestry shuttered in March in the West Village, owner Roni Mazumdar was quick to put another modern Indian restaurant in its place. The restaurateur tapped Junoon alum Chintan Pandya to reinterpret regional Indian food with local New York ingredients: Bhuna bhutta features corn on the cob dressed with reduced whey and turmeric; a dish of corn bread, mustard greens and jaggery butter plays on saag roti; and a shepherd’s pie nods to the subcontinent with ground lamb and cumin potato mash. 

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West Village
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7

Sushi by Boū

They say the greatest things come in the smallest packages—which is good news for David Bouhadana, who follows his outdoor omakase concept Sushi on Jones with a four-seat sushi counter in Gansevoort Market. After the closure of his Sushi Dojo spin-off, Dojo Express, in the same market in 2015, the chef is back slicing, dicing and rolling 12 varieties of fish for 30-minute meals at this tiny chef’s-choice spot, which is hand-painted in bright strokes by local artist Pesu. Plates include toro with truffle salt and an uni-ikura roll topped with a quail egg. If diners finish the meal in less than the half-hour allotted time, they can choose from off-the-menu specials like a beef-uni hand roll or a “Big Mac” made with toro, scallop and uni. Too busy to sit? Take the same 12-piece meal to-go with the kitchen’s omakase-in-box option. 

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Chelsea
8

The Club Car

Head to the coast on the McKittrick Hotel Express as part of a surf-and-turf summer pop-up restaurant from chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr (Balthazar, Minetta Tavern), operating through Labor Day weekend. Guests can dine in either a main room with seashell-accented lighting or a custom-built 1930s-style train car complete with vintage suitcases and velvet curtains. The three-course prix fixe kicks off with iced crudités, fresh-baked Parker House rolls and the choice of a soup or a salad, followed by the main entrée of a 10-ounce dry-aged boneless rib eye topped with one of four seafood offerings: broiled lobster, soft-shell crab, scallops romesco or razor-clam oreganata. Finish the meal with either lemon cake or a chocolate-caramel tart. 

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Chelsea
9

Beyond Sushi

Husband-and-wife team Guy and Tali Vaknin’s vegan sushi concept has been a lunch-break haven in midtown and Union Square since 2012—now, the formerly fast-casual chain is expanding with sit-down service at this 72-seat outpost. Outfitted with green cans jutting from the walls and orange painted ropes hanging from the ceiling, the Herald Square location serves signature maki rolls, including the Spicy Mang (mango, cucumber, cayenne sauce) and the Sunnyside (braised fennel, sun-dried tomatoes, butternut squash, almond pesto sauce). In addition to the rolls, you can get dumplings, soups, noodle salads and rice-paper wraps to stay or to go. 

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Midtown West
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